Kit Chapman, the owner of the Castle at Taunton, has called on the Government to start taking the hospitality and tourism industry seriously, in a speech at the University of Surrey at the weekend.Chapman didn't mince his words, warning the Government that hospitality and tourism was "not some kind of Tom & Jerry show". And he dismissed as "arrant nonsense" and a "huge porkie" the Government's claim that UK tourism was a "priority".
He is asking for responsibility for tourism and hospitality policy to be moved from the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). And he also said he wanted reduction in VAT for the industry.
Do you agree with Chapman's words? Or do you think the Government is doing a decent job?
The answer to this question really depends on how you view what the government are doing.
On one hand, they are not providing tax breaks or many incentives for hospitality, on the other they are still funding tourism boards and are funding and creating training schemes such as 'hospitality academies'.
There is funding being pumped in to getting peoe in to hospitality, however, in my honest opinion, the people being trained in to hospitality are largely unsuitable in public dealing roles - I have seen students on nvq courses who have no peoe skills or absolutely no professionalism, who are then put on to a reception desk. I have seen students scream at guests, abuse other staff, bad mouth guests and the hotel, yet still come out with a qualification. This needs looking at.
With regards to training, the nvqs used to be in things like hotel reception, food and beverage etc, but they have been consolidated by the examination boards to be customer services, which encompasses food and beverage, reception, housekeeping, conferencing etc all in one generalised syllabus that actually does not provide a lot of substance. Yes the people are trained (to a degree) and are provided a qualification at e end of the course, but the real problem is the attitudes and where the training is targeted.
For example, I looked at additional training for myself. I am not massively paid so affording a course of several thousand pounds is not possible. Now, if I was in a higher pay bracket, I would be able to afford the qualification. If I was paid a few thousand less, I would get it for free via grants. But because I sit between the two, the government will do nothing. The government needs to start looking at seriously funding training for people already in hospitality roles, and stop some of their stupid rules. I have a level 4 qualification in training staff. Because of this, I am not eligible for any government funded courses, in any subject, just because I have a level 4 qualification (it could be a level 4 qualification in using a watching machine, or feeding fish but it would still not matter - having a qualification at level 4, regardless of what it is, means you do not get funding)
The government also need to look at tax breaks and incentives for hoteliers and caterers as a whole, and also tax breaks for staff working hospitality. Wages throughout the industry are low, and that does not make working in hospitality attractive to many people. Generally every job is minimum wage, I have even seen senior managers on MW. Overall the industry needs investment in proper training and skills management with grants for existing staff etc, and also need to look at tax breaks for staff and hospitality businesses as a whole to inside more fresh talent to the trade.
Kit Chapman is right to raise these issues and I’d say to anyone who feels as strongly as he does, join the British Hospitality Association (BHA) which is recognised by the government as the official body representing our industry. The BHA has already put forward a strong case for removing obstacles to our progress, such as the high rate of VAT. The wider its membership, the greater are its chances of success
I'm a relative newcomer to this industry but I have never felt comfortable the Government of the day have ever taken us seriously.
The PM was interviewed this morning about the deepening recession and his response avoided any mention of Hospitality's part in any recovery....surely if he took us seriously he would see we potentially have a key role. Competing on a level VAT playing field would be a good start.......
Fallowfields Hotel and Restaurant, Oxfordshire
I'm not sure if you are aware but there is European funding available for skills development and training and in particular to assist with work placements in hotels and restaurants in other EU countries. Let me know if you need any more information and are interested in finding out more.
If I can return to the core of the debate - taking the hospitality industry seriously. I think it is difficult at this point in the debate to separate out tourism and hospitality. They are inextricably linked and obvious partners. I do agree with Kit Chapman - never one to mince his words - hospitality/tourism must fall within the Dept of Business Innovation & Skills - tell me where hospitality fits in with the words culture, media and sports? It is a catch all department that provides a home for industries the government don't take seriously unless it concerns the Olympics, and is clearly considered a lightweight at cabinet level.
I do agree with Peter Hancock. The BHA is the best route to achievement in areas of Vat and serious reform. It may take a while but in time there will be a politician or party who realises he/she/they dismisses hospitality/tourism at their peril.